As part of an ongoing devblog series on Mystery Parfait, I’d like to talk about how the group and the project got their start.
I started a side project while I was a student at the Guildhall at SMU. It’s not uncommon for students at video game schools to make projects while at school, often as part of their classes. These sometimes end up being showcase winners showing cutting edge of innovation, like Narbacular Drop, which eventually became the critically acclaimed Portal.
My project wasn’t like that, though. While others tried (and often failed) to find the next big gameplay innovation that would redefine video games, I simply wanted to tell a story. My goal was to write a visual novel. That project became Flight of Twilight. At the time, I had no idea what I was getting into.
Narbacular Drop, the predecessor to Portal,
was originally a student game at DigiPen.
The whole thing started in my Programming for Designers class. One of our projects was to program and build a ZORK-like text adventure. As with all projects, there was a high degree of competitiveness between the students, so I labored over what to do for several days. What was it I wanted to make? What was the story I wanted to tell? It was as if a voice inside wanted to sing, but I couldn’t quite hear it. The answer came from of a box on my desk I had forgotten for so long.
When I visited Japan around 2004, there was a brand new game by a company named Key. On my last day, as I was running around the streets of Akihabara, I picked up a first edition box of Clannad. I knew nothing about it except that it was apparently by the same company who made Kanon and AIR, highly considered masterpieces within the otaku community. On a whim, I picked it up as a souvenir.
So there I was, looking around my desk for inspiration, when I saw Nagisa staring back at me. “That’s it,” I thought. “That’s something I know, something I can relate to. I want to make a nakige.” I brainstormed and brainstormed until I came up with something that I liked: a short story of a boy who returns home, meeting his long lost sister at the tree fort they played in as kids. This was the seed of the story that would become Flight of Twilight.
The cover of the limited first edition of
Clannad, which still sits on my desk.
In the end, I didn’t end up using this idea for my Programming for Designers class. I ran out of time and ended up writing something silly just to get it done. But even after the project was long over, I couldn’t shake this story from my head. That’s when I decided I would write it myself, draw a few pictures, and release it as a simple visual novel.
I called up a very talented programmer friend, Indigo, and asked if he would be interested in working on a small project together. I told him about it, and he sounded genuinely interested. “I think a side project is just what I need,” he said.
But as I worked on the story, my ambition grew as well. I realized that if I had someone help with the art, I could really pour time into writing the script, and have a better looking product. “It won’t be as big or as complicated, but I could make a high-quality visual novel, just like Clannad.” If there were going to be so many people working together on a project, though, I was going to need some help. That’s when I called up my long-time friend and eternal muse, Moogs.
In the end, instead of making the next Braid or Portal, I decided to take something very dear to me and share it with people who have little chance to experience it. This genre, though fantastically popular in Japan, almost never makes it to English-speaking shores. It’s my hope that by creating this in my native language, it might inspire others to do the same. In the end, that just might be even more ambitious.